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Beaming Up Safety at LCRA’s Mernda Rail Extension Project

As Melbourne’s northern suburbs expand, so does the need for rail transport to keep up with it.

The Level Crossing Removal Authority are now involved in a big expansion of the South Morang line to Mernda, incorporating two new stations along the way: Hawkestowe and Marymede. And to make sure that there are no level crossings that need removing in the future, the rail corridor’s design only utilises sunken underpasses and bridges.
Construction company John Holland is involved with building overpasses and bridges along the rail line extension, many of which are comprised of precast concrete beams. Upon delivery, these beams are of course craned into place.

The challenge for workers on the ground has been gaining access to the top of the beams while they are still on the truck, to connect the crane to lifting points. A combination of the height and no rails in this temporary situation presented very real fall dangers. And clambering up the sides of truck trailers presents more opportunity for serious injury.

Based on an awareness of their standard range—Super Maintenance Platforms and Cantilever Platforms—John Holland commissioned Australian portable height access product maker SafeSmart Access to custom design and build a platform that would fit the job perfectly.

SafeSmart took the brief and specifications from combination truck trailer and beam height, and exactly where workers needed to walk to during craning. With this, SafeSmart’s in-house design team drafted up a unique platform for the job, tentatively-titled the “Adjustable Beam Access Platform”.

These units are made from tough yet lightweight high-tensile aluminium which are easily hand-manoeuvred on 200mm castors around the site.

Whilst it is like the design of the Cantilever Platform at the base, this unit features a platform that is already somewhat cantilevered at the top, which can be adjusted vertically via a smooth-winding hand winch within a range of 1m, to accommodate differing truck flatbed heights or operation on differently-levelled terrains.

A step-through gate allows the operator to step into a loop handrail-enclosed area for two-sided edge protection whilst on the beams. Once the crane is connected to the lifting lugs, the operator simply steps back on to the cantilever and pull the loop rail shut again behind them. Then the unit can be moved away from the vehicle to allow craning to commence.

Even though the product is unique, it is still compliant to AS1657 – a first priority on John Holland sites.

This unit is also more efficient than traditional Elevated Work Platforms (EWP); it requires no power, charging or complex maintenance to be workable. And its aluminium construction guarantees many years of durability and weather resistance.

The first order of this product was for two units; John Holland site supervisors are assessing the product for potential reorder for several other sites across the LCRP network.